"In front of the old black lead grate, or even at the side of the bed, there was nothing quite like the feel of a podged rug"
Cradley Links thanks the marvellous Cradley Podging Ladies (and especially Jill Guest), who have not only supplied the text and photographs for this article but also made a podged rug in our honour! In July 2000 the ladies extended their field of interest from "podgin'" alone to create then Black Country Crafts Class, an offshoot of Cradley Then & Now. Their repertoire now encompasses many other traditional Cradley crafts such as corking, rag dolls, and more.
Podging and podged rugs are known by several different names, depending on which part of the country you come from. In the Black Country it is known as "podging", but in Birmingham Dr. Carl Chinn will tell you that it is known as "bodgin".
Most people over a certain age (late fifties to early sixties) will eagerly tell you how they used to cut up snips of old clothes for their parents or grandparents to podge rugs. In the days before fitted carpets, or indeed any sort of carpets, in many poorer homes a podged rug was a real luxury. In front of the old black lead grate, or even at the side of the bed, there was nothing quite like the feel of a podged rug.
Most were made out of "erden" (hessian) bags which were washed and hemmed round. The finished rug would also be backed with hessian to strengthen it. Erden bags were also by both men and women as aprons to protect clothes.
Old clothes were cut into snips about 4 inches long by 1/2 inch wide, and podged into the hessian with either a podging hook or half a sharpened dolly peg.
This passed many an evening, with whole families working on a new rug either cutting or podging, sometimes singing or telling stories as they worked.
The Cradley Podgers have tried to keep alive this old craft, still using hessian and old clothes, but with hooks rather than pegs, as these were found to be too hard to use. We have completed four rugs; so far the latest is in honour of the Cradley Links website.
Cradley Links is both humbled and proud to be the subject of such an authentic and unique Cradley honour. Thank you so much, Cradley Podging Ladies!